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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-05-23

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 23/05/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • FM Pangalos to visit Albania in early June
  • Greek, Turkish experts committees will present findings soon
  • FM Pangalos welcomes a possible Burns posting to Athens
  • Foreign minister to get new free operations room
  • Athens bourse hits all-time high in today's trading
  • Greece to revive bid to retrieve Parthenon marbles
  • Greece-FYROM trade on the rise
  • Gov't rejects calls to sack minister over drug comments
  • Couple ambushed by armed men
  • Romanian president requests Greek Parliament's support for EU, NATO
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

FM Pangalos to visit Albania in early June

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos is to visit Albania early next month, he announced at a press conference today. He said his visit would probably take place on June 3, following the European Union Foreign Ministers' Council in Brussels.

Asked whether he would meet with Albanian President Sali Berisha, the Foreign Minister said he would be meeting with all leaders, while if possible he would also visit Greek forces participating in the multinational force there.

Meanwhile, commenting on press reports to the effect that Italy was involving itself in the Albanian election campaign, Pangalos said that the Italian Ambassador in Athens had denied such an involvement, while the Italian envoy in Tirana had made a statement declaring that his statements quoted in the press had been distorted.

The Foreign Minister dismissed the view that "Greek and Serbian circles" had caused the upheaval in Albania, saying that there were no real ultra- nationalist forces in Greece, apart from a few isolated voices.

Commenting on reports of illegal visas being issued by diplomatic staff in Albania, Pangalos drew attention to the Ministry's limited ability to investigate such activities.

However, he said there had been such accusations in the past but only in two or three cases had they been specific. An investigation of the allegations had indicated that they concerned circles outside the consulate.

The Minister defended the staff at Greece's consulates in Albania, who he said were generally above suspicion.

"While this does not mean that some of them might not be led astray, this could happen within any group of people, even politicians or journalists," he concluded.

Greek, Turkish experts committees will present findings soon

Greek and Turkish experts studying problems in bilateral relations are to present their findings to the Dutch European Union presidency, possibly as soon as Monday, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos told a press conference today.

Pangalos expressed the hope that the Turkish group's report would contain "positive and constructive positions". He said the two groups would study each other's reports, to be exchanged via the EU presidency.

Asked to comment on an interview with Turkish President Suleiman Demirel to be screened on Greece's Antenna TV station tonight, in which Demirel reportedly proposes the signing of a non-aggression pact with Greece, Pangalos said:

"If the Turkish President's statements constitute an abandonment of the (Turkish policy of) casus belli, this will be a very significant development."

He said, however, that if the abandonment of "casus belli" was accompanied by conditions such as a demand that neither country did anything to displease the other, such as Greece exercising its right to extend its territorial waters to the 12-mile limit, then this would be a step backwards, as it would be tantamount to asking Greece to adopt Turkey's position.

Pangalos noted the gravity of the situation, saying that no politician, whether in Greece or Turkey, would want to assume the burden of a military confrontation. He also noted a warning from the US that it would intervene militarily to stop such a confrontation. The Foreign Minister drew attention to both countries' commitments to a number of international treaties obliging them to avoid military conflict.

Asked to comment on reservations expressed by Cypriot leaders over a possible non-aggression pact between Greece and Turkey, Pangalos reiterated that any military action by Turkey against Cyprus would be considered by Greece as cause for war. However, he added that neither Greece nor Cyprus should dictate policy to each other, and that Greece should not become involved in the Cypriot election campaign.

Finally, with regard to the proposed summer moratorium on military flights in the Aegean, the Foreign Minister reiterated that Greece was in favour of such a move, noting that there were still certain reservations on the part of Turkey.

FM Pangalos welcomes a possible Burns posting to Athens

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos today responded positively to reports that State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns will be appointed ambassador to Greece in the summer, saying he had a ''personal liking'' for the US official.

US administration officials said yesterday that Burns was expected to be named ambassador to Greece in the summer, replacing Washington's present envoy, Thomas Niles.

Meanwhile, Pangalos told a press conference this morning that he would fly to Paris on Monday to attend an OECD ministerial meeting before travelling on to Lisbon on Wednesday to represent Greece at the NATO foreign ministers meeting.

The agenda of the NATO meeting will focus on preparations for the Alliance summit in Madrid in early July.

Replying to reporters' questions, Pangalos said no meetings had been scheduled on the sidelines of the Libson meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller or other counterparts, but did not rule out such meetings eventually taking place.

Foreign minister to get new free operations room

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos today announced major decisions concerning the structure, organisation and operation of his ministry, including the setting up of a modern ''operations centre'' for use in crisis situations.

The operations centre, Pangalos said, will be housed in the basement of the ministry building in the centre of Athens.

He added that the cost of the centre would not burden public finances, since the project would be paid entirely by the president of the Athens Medical Centre, George Apostolopoulos, in the form of a donation.

Work on the centre will begin this year, Pangalos said, adding that it will be equipped with modern telecommunications systems and operate in close collaboration with the corresponding centre at the National Defence Ministry.

Pangalos also announced changes to the entrance requirements for embassy attache candidates.

In addition to the present requirement of two working languages, candidates will also have to have a basic knowledge of economics, reflecting the emphasis which the ministry wishes to place on economic diplomacy.

Athens bourse hits all-time high in today's trading

The Athens Stock Exchange made history on Friday with the general index breaking two records as it surpassed the previous all-time high of 1,684.31 points, set in July 5, 1990, and breached the 'psychological' barrier of 1, 700 for the first time in history.

The index closed at 1,727.70 points, up 2.60 percent, to show a total gain of 85.08 percent since the start of the year.

The president of the Shareholders' Union, Dimitris Karagounis, told the ANA that "the rise in share prices is not merely a temporary phenomenon, rather it reflects the steady fall in inflation and interest rates, expectations of high corporate profits during 1997 and the stable economic policies pursued by the government".

He also predicted the continuation of the upward trend in the medium- and long-term, despite temporary correction and setbacks.

Trading remained at voluminous levels and turnover reached 32.4 billion drachmas.

Most sector indices scored gains, once again led by banks with an increase of 2.65 percent. Insurances rose 1.58 percent, Investment jumped 5.18 percent, Industrials increased 1.85 percent, Holdings ended 0.68 percent higher, Miscelleaneous rose 1.19 percent, but Leasing was unchanged and Construction fell 0.29 percent.

The Parallel Market index ended up 0.22 percent.

Greece to revive bid to retrieve Parthenon marbles

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos told Parliament today that Athens would submit a fresh request to the new British government for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum.

Replying to a question tabled by a Coalition of the Left and Progress deputy, Venizelos said the government would undertake a series of initiatives for the return of the marbles, which were handed to Lord Elgin by the Ottoman rulers in the early 19th century.

Venizelos said he would be sending a letter to the British government within the next few days and on June 30 would discuss the issue with his British counterpart on the sidelines of the meeting of European Union culture ministers.

''I do believe that the negative position adopted by the new British government is final,'' Venizelos said.

Greece-FYROM trade on the rise

Trade between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is steadily improving and is forecast to reach 300 million US dollars in 1998 from 180 million last year.

According to figures relased today by the National Statistics Service (NSS), Greece ranks fourth in FYROM's external trade after Germany, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Slovenia.

The European Union is the biggest trade partner of the neighbouring country. FYROM's exports to the EU account for 42.7 percent of total exports, while imports from the 15-member union represent 38.7 percent.

The NSS notes that FYROM's trade with the EU is greater than with the former Yugoslav republics, with exports to those countries accounting for 33.1 percent of the total and imports 21 percent.

Gov't rejects calls to sack minister over drug comments

The government today strongly reacted to a demand by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga for the removal of Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou because of the views he expressed in favour of the decriminilisation of marijuana use.

''Ms. Papariga and the KKE would be advised to do and speak less so that they will be compromised less,'' government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, while underlining that the positions expressed by Papandreou were his own personal views.

Papandreou said in an interview with a Greek magazine that the use of marijuana should be decrininalised and people allowed to grow the plant for their own personal use.

In many instances, Reppas said, politicians act as dictated by their conscience. What is important, the spokesman added, is ''policy not individuals''.

''Government policy on the issue of narcotics has a specific basis, namely the findings of the relevant all-party committee and the issue does not lend itself for quarrels,'' Reppas said.

The spokesman rejected criticism from Papariga that Papandreou was using his position to promote his personal views, stressing that the minister had expressed the same views on numerous occasions in the past.

When asked to comment on the matter, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos underlined that Papandreou had expressed his views ''as a citizen'' and therefore there could be no question of linking them with his remaining a minister or not.

Pangalos also stressed that Papandreou had on many occasions in the past expressed the same views, adding that the issue of narcotics was one of conscience.

''Personally, I feel uncomfortable when a party comes along and says 'this is my party view'. It's a nightmare,'' Pangalos said.

Couple ambushed by armed men

An Albanian was shot dead and his wife seriously injured early today in Markopoulo, Attica when unidentified armed men burst into the house in which they were sleeping and opened fire.

The dead man was identified as Andreas Rapais, 37, who died instantly in a hail of gunfire, while his wife, Suzana, 28, is being treated at the Sismanoglio hospital in Athens.

Although shot in the spleen and suffering from knife wounds to her hands, Suzana is believed to be out of danger.

The couple's 8-year-old child was in the house at the time of the attack but miraculously escaped unhurt.

Romanian President requests Greek Parliament's support for EU, NATO

Visiting Romanian President Emil Constantinescu today asked for the Greek Parliament's assistance in Bucharest's bid to join the European Union and NATO, during talks with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

Constantinescu, who is on an official three-day visit to Greece, received assurances during talks yesterday with President Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis that Athens would support Romania's efforts to join NATO and the EU.

In his talks with Constantinescu this morning, Kaklamanis referred to the ''great possibilities'' which the two countries have to contribute towards consolidating cooperation and peaceful co-existence in the Balkan region.

Commenting on the issue of security in Europe, Kaklamanis said the continent needed a security system ''of a higher level, over and above NATO, in which all European countries participate''.

''Merely shifting the dividing lines of the Cold War eastwards is no answer to the problem of collective security in Europe,'' he added.

Kaklamanis accepted an invitation from Constantinescu to visit Romania at the head of an all-party parliamentary delegation.

WEATHER

Today's weather will be cloudy with scattered showers in the north and over the Aegean and Dodecanese islands. Sunny weather over the rest of the country, with cloud developing in the afternoon, along with a slight drop in temperature. Winds will be northerly. In Athens, the weather will be mostly fine, with temperatures ranging from 20-32C. IN thessaloniki the temperatures will range from 20 to 28C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 267.404 Pound sterling 439.258 Cyprus pd 532.327 French franc 46.979 Swiss franc 189.720 German mark 158.174 Italian lira (100) 16.062 Yen (100) 231.414 Canadian dlr. 195.186 Australian dlr. 209.054 Irish Punt 407.434 Belgian franc 7.663 Finnish mark 52.473 Dutch guilder 140.705 Danish kr. 41.555 Swedish kr. 35.444 Norwegian kr. 38.174 Austrian sch. 22.483 Spanish peseta 1.878 Port. Escudo 1.571

(M.P.)


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